world cup 2010 – day 4: japan keeps the asian flag flying, holland wins, reigning world champions held

honda-keisuke100614getty Japan created history of their own last night when the won their first World Cup game on foreign soil after beating Cameroon 1-0 at the Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein. CSKA Moscow striker Keisuke Honda got the goal in the 39th minute, following a cross from Daisuke Matsui. Cameroon tried to get back into the game, but the Japanese defence, led by their inspirational central defenders, Tulio Tanaka and Yuji Nakazawa, held firm. A quiet game for their captain, Samuel Eto’o, didn’t help their cause either. In the end, it was the Blue Samurais who were celebrating another milestone of their footballing history. For Cameroon, another miserable outing for an African country. At the moment the record reads, 1 win, 1 draw, 3 losses for Africa. Ivory Coast comes next.

Dirk-Kuyt-celebrates-with-006Netherlands opened their account against Denmark in the Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg. These 2 countries have quite a history between them, meeting 28 times prior, but never in a World Cup. Both teams took time to get themselves acclimatized to the game. In fact neither team were really able to provide goalmouth action in the first half, barring one headed effort which was headed wide by Danish Nicklas Bendtner, and a Thomas Kahlenberg shot which brought the best out of Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg. The second half started differently however, as in the 46th minute, the Dutch finally got their noses in front when Daniel Agger unfortunately deflected Simon Poulsen’s awful clearance into his own net. The Oranje improved from then on and finally got their second goal, when Eljero Elia‘s shot had struck the post, and Dirk Kuyt was there to slot in the rebound.

1245118_full-lnd The third match of the day saw the World Champions Italy, taking on Paraguay at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. Italy has been under intense scrutiny for this year’s World Cup after less than convincing displays during the build up to the tournament. And it proved so when they were held to a 1-1 draw in their opening match. On a rainy and balmy evening in Cape Town, Antolin Alcaraz scored first in the 39th minute for Paraguay, off a header from a beautiful free-kick by Aureliano Torres, to make the score 1-0 at half-time. The real worry for the Italians and Marcello Lippi was not only their form, but also when their talismanic goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, failed to come out of the tunnel after the break due to a back injury, which was confirmed by Lippi later. Nevertheless, the Italians seemed to show more purpose after the break, and eventually got the equalizer just after the hour mark, when Danielle De Rossi took advantage of some indecision by the Paraguayan goalkeeper, Justo Villar. The Italians tried in vain to snatch the winner, but was denied by Villar, who wanted to redeem himself after conceding the goal. The score remained, and it was certainly not the start that both teams had wanted.

June 14
Group E

Group F

Group E Standings

Pld W D L F A Pts
Netherlands 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Japan 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Cameroon 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Denmark 1 0 0 1 0 2 0

Group F Standings

Pld W D L F A Pts
Italy 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Paraguay 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Slovakia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

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